Day 5 – Sometimes Changing Slowly Works Better

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21dmro_bar-3Do you have a blind-spot that could be hurting your morning routine?

A blind-spot is an area just outside of your field of vision that you’re not aware of. It seems not to exist – except it does. You may be sabotaging your efforts to create and stay consistent with your morning routine, if you have something like this in your life, whether you’re aware of it or not.

So do you have a blind-spot and if so what could it be?

One area to consider is whether or not you take for granted how difficult it can be to internalize a new habit – especially one you may not be ready to handle yet. If you choose a habit that requires a certain level of sustained motivation that you don’t yet possess it can become a blind-spot because we’re usually highly motivated when we make these commitments, so feeling we can handle them is normal. The problems surface when we return to our normal levels of motivation.

It was Bill Gates who said: Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.

When we’re full of inspiration and motivation, we think we can take on the world. We feel bold and strong, and we have the courage of our convictions. But old habits die hard, and the cold hard truth is – if we don’t yet know how to maintain and replenish our motivation on a consistent basis, we won’t have all this energy for long. If we don’t know how to self-motivate we’ll soon lose focus; priorities will change and maintaining this new routine will become more and more difficult.

As discussed yesterday, learning how to self-motivate is a process, not simply a matter of intention. And so it’s always important to remember to meet yourself where you are and build from there.

Say – for example – you wanted to lose a significant amount of weight. You have a few options – diet, exercise or both. At the point of decision – that very moment you say, ‘I’m in’ – you’re most likely in a highly motivated state. Maybe you came across an old pair of jeans you used to love but that no longer fit, or maybe a doctor made it clear –  you need to lose the extra pounds. However the motivation came, you’re now feeling strong and ready to take action. That’s great! But before you dive head first into a gym membership and throw out all your butter and sugar, remember – first the habit then the results. If long term success is your aim then building the habit will always be the most important part of normalizing your morning routine. It’s important for the results to be a byproduct of the habit you’ve created if you want the results to stick.

This is an area where it’s important to know yourself because some people can handle bigger, faster change better than others. But understand – you don’t have to go from couch potato to gym rat overnight. You don’t have to go from Standard American Diet to vegetarian, in an instant. And you don’t have to go from never meditating to 20 minutes of meditation every morning, all of a sudden. The more important part of the equation is not how much you do but how consistently you do it. If you committed to meditating for 5 minutes every day, immediately upon waking up, that would be a great start! It may not be where you’d like to end up, but it’s progression. Instead of focusing so heavily on the task, focus more on staying consistent. You’ll find it won’t be that easy. There will be times when you want to overlook your meditation practice – you’re running late, you’re not feeling well, you forgot to do it yesterday so might as well… You’ll have to counter these contrary thoughts and feelings and stay true to the habit your building. The benefit is that because it’s a habit you’re prepared to commit to – meaning you have the strength and motivation to do it – you’ll be able to weather the storms and push back against the obstacles. You won’t be overwhelmed.

So rather than committing to something that is so far from your current normal, try doing less. Commit to something that would move you closer to your goals, and that seems easy enough but that you’re not yet consistently doing. Think of it as pacing yourself the way a long distance runner would. After all, they say life is a marathon, not a sprint.